Omar Waraich: The only people who want Musharraf back are his enemies


Related Topics

The contrast could scarcely have been more striking.

When Pervez Musharraf entered politics in 1999, he was an army chief, seizing power in a bloodless coup. Now Pakistan's former military ruler is reduced to making a feeble second attempt thousands of miles away in London, to barely a hall full of people.

Deploying his characteristically brusque tones, Mr Musharraf said there was a need to "bring all patriotic people under one flag, that flag should be the All Pakistan Muslim League." The reference was the name of his new party, one he had to assemble after his supporters in Pakistan deserted him. Mr Musharraf said that he would return to Pakistan, with the same uneasy insistence with which he used to claim he would never leave.

Mr Musharraf boasted he remains popular in Pakistan and stood a chance at returning to the presidency. "Illusion," observed Oscar Wilde, "is the first of all pleasures." That at least is how many Pakistanis regarded yesterday's launch. After nearly nine years in power, he has left behind bitter memories of military rule, once-loyal generals and politicians keen to distance themselves from his legacy, and charges ranging from political assassination to stoking extremism – even high treason for violating the constitution.

Few think he will return. "Musharraf will remain away from Pakistan for many years," said a senior Western diplomat. His former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, agreed: "He has no political base here. He won't be able to move around because of the security risk. Even the programme he's offering is what he said he'd do in power. He failed then, he has no chance now."

Excitable television news channels resisted treating the launch as a serious event. Some ran montages recalling his taste for the good life. Others interviewed opponents who vented a litany of criticisms.

"There's one thing to be army chief in Pakistan and another to enter politics as an ex-general," said former cricket legend Imran Khan. "Gen Musharraf will notice that difference if he does return."

That's not to say Pakistanis are not looking forward to Mr Musharraf, if for the reasons that will keep him away. The Baluch leaders want him tried for the 2006 assassination of Akbar Bugti. In the southern province of Sindh, supporters of the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto have questions about his failure to provide adequate security, as outlined in the UN's report.

In the Punjab, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would like him tried for "high treason" for the 1999 coup and imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. And in the northwest, he is blamed for allowing militancy to mushroom though deals with the Taliban.

"He's united the country," said Talat Hussain, a senior journalist. "But it's united against him."

One person who may smile on the prospect of Mr Musharraf returning is President Asif Ali Zardari, as it would divert hostile attention from his struggling government.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before